Sunday, January 27, 2008

Finding the harmony

Remember those childhood dreams? Can you recall what you used to think you wanted to be when you grew up?

You'll laugh at mine. I didn't want to be a writer -- at least, not until later. I didn't want to be a firefighter. Police officer? Only if I could be a private investigator, like Magnum p.i.

No, friends, what I wanted to be, more than anything in the world, was a member of the Oak Ridge Boys.

Quartet music was the first kind of music I ever heard. I'd spend hours as a young pup listening to the Inspirations, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, the Kingsmen, the Statler Brothers, and of course, the Oaks. My mom took me to see them at Stokely Athletic Center when I was about 6. Part of me ain't been the same since.

I had it all picked out. I wanted to be William Lee Golden -- sans the beard. They'd call me up, say, "Jake, we're coming through Halls, get ready to jump on the bus." And in my 5-year-old glory I'd sing lead on "Ozark Mountain Jubilee" and stay with the group until time to retire.

Dreams die. But love of good music never does.

There's something about that good, old-fashioned four part harmony. It works best if the guys are wearing matching suits and ties. I thought about that, and those long ago dreams, when I went with pals John Hitt and Fred Russell to hear the Triumphant Quartet in South Knoxville tonight.

Oh, they're modern and can't quite match up with the Oaks, or the Statesmen or the Blackwood Brothers. But they're pretty darn close, and definitely the best in their field today.

Perhaps the best singer of the bunch is big Scott Inman, 25 years young, but with a voice like you wouldn't believe. Yes, Triumphant still wears those classic matching suits, too. And, every now and then, they'll pull out one of those classics from yesteryear. They've got a great sound, I know that.

The boys gave up their regular Sunday night show at the old Louise Mandrell Theater in Pigeon Forge. Now, they travel around, singing in churches and at other quartet events, finally able to keep longstanding requests.

I sat in the back and tapped my foot. John was nodding his head. Freddie clapped a whole lot.

Part of me, that little boy from years ago, kept hoping Eric Bennett would call me up on the stage to sing one with the quartet. I'm glad he didn't -- I'm nowhere near in the same ballpark with these guys -- but, oh, how I love the music.

It reminds me of something simple, something a bit more real than all this modern jazz, something I once dreamed about and probably still do on nights with the adult inside me doesn't get in the way.

Thanks for the harmony, fellas. For one cold January night, anyway, the dream was still alive.

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Blogger Byron said...

Wish I could've been at Valley Grove last night. Thanks for posting this. Scotty Inman is a great singer but my fav is Bass, Eric Bennett. Much like you, my childhood dream was to be in a quartet (the Mighty Kingsmen). I stupidly let my opportunity slip by.
I wasn't aware that you had a blog. I've added you to my blogroll.

9:12 AM  

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